Sunday morning session of General Conference brings talks on death, suicide, forgiveness

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People arrive for the twice-annual conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Thousands packed the Conference Center in Salt Lake City Sunday morning as leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed members worldwide. 

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, formerly known as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, broadcast its first “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast since it was renamed. 

As the Sunday session of conference began, President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, addressed members in a poignant talk on grief, death and the afterlife. His remarks came just six days after the death of his wife, Barbara. 

A descendant of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ballard talked about a century-old vision received by President Joseph F. Smith, the son of Hyrum Smith, who was assassinated in 1844 with his brother Joseph in Carthage, Illinois. In the vision, Ballard said, Smith saw the spirits of the dead. Smith claimed he saw the spirits of the dead in the spirit world after pondering deeply about the bloodshed that had just occurred in World War I. His vision is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, which is canonized scripture to Latter-day Saints. 

“On this special 100th anniversary, I invite you to thoughtfully read this revelation. As you do so, may the Lord bless you to more fully understand and appreciate God’s love and His plan of salvation and happiness for His children,” he said.

“I testify that the vision President Joseph F. Smith received is true. I bear witness that every person can read it and come to know it is true. Those who do not receive this knowledge in this life will surely come to know its truthfulness when everyone will arrive in the spirit world. There, all will love and praise God and the Lord Jesus Christ for the great plan of salvation and the blessing of the promised resurrection when body and spirit will once again be reunited never to be separated again,” Ballard said.

In another address, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon briefly recounted a story of a church member whose wife had attempted suicide, and the ward’s efforts to sit with that man in his grief.

“The world is more hope-filled and joyful because of inspired acts of kindness you perform,” Cordon said. 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland spoke on forgiveness. 

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify that forgiving and forsaking offenses, old or new, is central to the grandeur of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I testify that ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid ‘with healing in his wings,'” Holland said.  “We thank Him, and our Heavenly Father who sent Him, that renewal and rebirth, a future free from old sorrows and past mistakes, are not only possible but have already been purchased and paid for at an excruciating cost symbolized by the blood of the Lamb who shed it,” he continued. 

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on trials and challenges that face everyone. 

“Never give up—however deep the wounds of your soul, whatever their source, wherever or whenever they happen, and for how short or long they persist, you are not meant to perish spiritually. You are meant to survive spiritually, and to live and grow in your faith and trust in God,” Andersen said. 

Stay with ABC4Utah for continuing coverage of the 188th Semiannual General Conference. 

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